Folks are penning lovely, reflective posts about the-year-that-was, but I'm among the legions of parents who won't feel like it's 2009 until school is back in session on January 5th. This week, then, I'm suspended happily in a no man's land of peaceful putzing around with my little family. Today was Ri and Vi's 9th birthday, and we took them to the new California Academy of Sciences, where they discreetly shrieked their way through the rainforest (green anaconda! piranhas! freakiest frogs EVER), worked their way around the aquarium with their jaws dropped (I could have sat in front of the Philippine coral reef for an hour), and became giddy with slight motion sickness in the planetarium (Vida raised her hand in front of the whole auditorium and correctly answered a question posed by the planetarium lady; I think this portends a future appearance on Jeopardy). If you have zero aversion to crowds, I recommend a thorough exploration. Other random facts about our visit:
1. Risa has a pathological fear of butterflies. The air was thick with them when we reached the rainforest canopy, and my poor little 9-year-old started to shake. After a few minutes, one of the butterflies—royal blue and big as a bird—landed on my arm (you realize what this means, do you not? It means that I am a PRINCESS), and a small crowd gathered around. Risa was right beside me, breathing normally, so I thought she'd conquered her discomfort. But then the butterfly flitted away, and she was back to cowering. At one point, she became so agitated that she SWATTED at a butterfly, so I had no choice but to rush her back down to to the rainforest floor. Weirdo.
2. I like penguins.
3. They served pretty good pho in the cafe. *scratches head in confusion* They are so green and healthy in there, though, that they only offered natural sodas and water (pfffft), which means that I was deprived of the lunchtime Diet Coke that basically ensures my daily survival.
4. I also like moon jellies.
5. Lea wanted to touch a starfish in the tidepool area, but kept saying the water was "too deep." We finally gave up on her and started to move on to the next thing. She then realized that she REALLY, REALLY wanted to touch a starfish. I led her to the other side of the tidepool (since we were, by this time, closer to that end) but she didn't want to touch any of THOSE starfish, she wanted to touch the starfish that we had all touched, which meant working our way back against the tide (get it? get it?!!). Normally I would have done my oh-no-you-don't-young-lady-the-whole-world-does-not-revolve-around-your-whims-and-wishes thing, but there was something about the situation that made me give in. I brought her back, held her hand, put it in the water with mine, and together we touched the starfish. I said, "Okay?" and then she just leaned against me and a single, heartbreaking tear slid down her cheek. Weirdo.
6. And also electric eels.
7. There are many times when the spousal unit's significant height comes in handy, but never more so than in extreme crowd conditions. Others may be swiveling their heads around or standing on their tip-toes to locate their partners, but I never have a problem finding home.
8. But not so much the albino alligator.
I have no decent pictures from today's activities, so I will post two from yesterday's when Risa and Vida spent three hours playing tetherball, a sport (is it a sport?) for which their passion knows no bounds. Here they are engaging in one of their cutthroat matches:
Lea has no interest in tetherball. Instead, she spent her time perfecting ever more dangerous tricks on her scooter. Behold her death-defying deep squat maneuver:
Don't try this at home.